Is the Earth Doomed?


Messages from children around the world decorate the venue of COP26 in the hopes that world leaders will hear the plea for change. | Kiara Worth NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

     We’re Close to the Edge: EPA Head Warns Of Ongoing Climate Crisis. This was the title of an NBC News video broadcast on October 1.

Seeing news headlines like these and social media feeds filled with natural disasters and extreme weather events, fueled by global warming can be scary. Most folks are nervous about the effects of climate change and how it will impact them. Many have embraced climate doomism—”a belief that humanity’s fate is already sealed and we are powerless to stave off catastrophic warming that will ultimately lead to our extinction along with most other species” (Sean Youra, Founder and editor-in-chief of Climate Conscious).

However, climate doomism is only going to lead to panic, so here are the facts and ways to take action.

     World leaders just met for 13 days at the COP26 summit in Glasgow (October 31- November 12), with the United States and China finally agreeing to cut CO2 emissions this decade. This agreement might not be the “game changer” the world hoped for, but many will concede that it is step in the right direction.

United Kingdom. Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomes President Joe Biden to the COP26 summit. | Simon Dawson NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) (Simon Dawson / No10 Downing Stre)

The August 26th report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which evaluates scientific research related to climate change and plans courses of action, stated that the warming of the atmosphere, ocean, and land are “unequivocally caused by human activity.” So basically, this crisis is on us.

Now, this does not mean that we as individuals are at fault for the climate emergency. The Carbon Majors Report, which is a series of publications that aims to “highlight the role that corporations can play in driving the global energy transition,” notes that since 1988, merely 100 companies are responsible for over 50% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).

Some of the perpetrators are ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, and Peabody Energy, all of which are US-based. In fact, the US ranked second in world (China was the first) for CO2 emissions in 2018.

So, while this is not our mistake, we are the generation most affected by the situation.

Sergio Chavez ‘24 said, “The lack of political will and international unity in the fight against global warming is pathetic. The fact that social movements and organizations are leading the fight against climate change just goes to show that government institutions are dogmatic in continuing to prioritize self-interests.”

This information can easily make a person feel hopeless but make no mistake, you can make a difference!

Yes, the efforts of a singular person are negligible if they’re acting alone, but if we take action together, we can enact real change.

The average person living in the United States produces 20 tons of CO2 annually. Here are some ways to lessen your carbon emissions.

Animal agriculture accounts for over 14% of all GHG emissions, so cutting back on your consumption of meat and dairy can have a huge impact. No one is asking you to remove these food products from your diet—just lessen your consumption.

Another way is being selective about where we spend our money. How we spend our consumer dollars represents one of the only ways we hold power over corporations. So here are some ideas to consider:

Choose thrifting instead of buying fast fashion, or buying used furniture instead buying new from a large furniture chain makes a difference.

Taking public transportation is going to be one of the most environmentally friendly ways to get around, so when possible, try to utilize it.

And of course, supporting environmental causes and charities. Sophomore Rylie Colbert is working with One Tree Planted to raise the money needed to plant 33,000 trees.

“As high school students, not everyone is going to be starting a bunch of charities, but I think the biggest thing is just to approach everything more mindfully. Any small decision has a more environmentally friendly option,” said Colbert.

You can support her cause by donating to the go fund me linked in her Instagram bio @ryliejayne_.

By far the best way to improve your impact on the environment is to educate yourself. Doing your research is vital when trying to protect the environment. When you select companies to do business with, from grocery stores to banks, you should learn whether their practices and investments reflect sound environmental decisions.

All of these habits eventually add up. Doing these simple things helps instill a sense of purpose and self-awareness, inspire others to reflect on their actions, and reinforce your morals and beliefs. It is never easy to make meaningful changes, especially when we feel like they make no difference. But this doesn’t mean we should not attempt to improve where we can!